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Founded 1979, General Statement
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Arnold Dreyblatt, Excited Strings Bass and Laptop
Jörg Hiller, Percussion and digitally controlled Electric Guitar
Joachim Schütz, Electric Guitar
Robin Hayward, Tuba.
A DVD of a live performance has been issued by the Neue Berliner Kunstverein in 2010.
Founded 1979, General Statement
The Orchestra of Excited Strings was founded by composer Arnold Dreyblatt
in New York City in 1979 for the development and performance of his music compositions.
Within the following years the ensemble performed extensively in the United States and recorded an LP for India Navigation Records in 1982 entitled, Nodal Excitation which was re-released on CD in 1998 by Drag City.
In 1984, Dreyblatt moved his base of operations to Berlin where he formed a new ensemble while composer-in-residence at Knstlerhaus Bethanien. This ensemble has performed throughout East and West Europe at numerous festivals, museums, galleries and other music venues. An LP entitled, Propellers in Love was issued by Knstlerhaus Bethanien in 1985. This recording was reissued by 'Hat Art Records' in 1986 on compact disc along with newly recorded material.
In composing a performance opera entitled, Who's Who in Central & East Europe 1933 (a co-production between Inventionen '91/DAAD, Berlin and Wiener Fest Wochen, Vienna) Dreyblatt reformed the ensemble including New York vocalist Shelley Hirsch in 1991 and performed with her at the Bang On A Can Festival at La Mama in New York in the same year.
The ensemble then recorded a number of pieces in New York with clarinetist Andy Statman which were issued by Extra Platte, Vienna in early 1992. Dreyblatt has also composed numerous pieces for theater and dance as well as designing sound installations.
In 1993, the ensemble performed on tour in the former Soviet Union, and through the middle 90's performed in Dreyblatt's theater pieces, including the Memory Arena which premiered in 1995. John Zorn's Zaddik label released Animal Magnetism in 1995, and a collection of solo works and live performances by the Orchestra of Excited Strings entitled The Sound of One String was released in 1998. This ensemble was disbanded in 1997. In 2000, and new Orchestra of Excited Strings was founded in New York. A CD of this ensemble was released in 2002 on Cantaloupe Records. Additional archival recordings will be released in 2006 by Table of the Elements.
For more information about the tuning system and instruments, please select the appropriate links
Instrumentation:1. Two Excited Strings Double Basses, Modified Piano, Hurdy Gurdy, Pipe Organ
2. Two Excited Strings Double Basses, Modified Piano, Hurdy Gurdy, Pipe Organ, French Horn, Trombone
3. Two Excited Strings Double Basses, Modified Piano, Violin, Hurdy Gurdy, Percussion
4. Excited Strings Double Bass, Modified Cembalom, Modified Electric Guitar, Violin, Percussion, Electronics
5. Excited Strings Double Bass, Modified Cembalom, Cello, Modified Electric Guitar, Hurdy Gurdy, Tuba, Trombone, Percussion
6. Excited Strings Double Bass, Normal Double Bass, Modified Cembalom, Cello, Two Modified Electric Guitars, Violin, Hurdy Gurdy, Percussion
In 1999, composer and performer David Weinstein suggested that I form an American ensemble to perform with new compositions at concerts at Tonic in New York. After the Bang On A Can All-Stars began performing (and finally recorded) my composition Escalator , I had been in discussion with a number of the All-Star musicians about forming a new ensemble. It seemed that the occasion had finally arrived. A long dormant invitation to teach a workshop in music and acoustics at the Center for the Arts at MIT unexpectedly re-emerged, and Evan Ziporyn, with whom I had long been in dialog about the idea, suggested that we could make use of the university facilities. A number of talented students were selected to complete the ensemble, and the occasion provided a second concert opportunity, as well as a space to record.
The ensemble represents an interesting collaboration drawing from a number of generations. In contrast to the well-known talents of Bang On A Can All-Stars members (Evan Ziporyn, Marc Stewart and Robert Black), Jeff Lieberman and Laurel P. Smith, both recent graduates from MIT are both in their early 20's. Danny Tunick, with his extensive background in both rock/punk and classical styles, provides a solid driving force which is inspiring for the entire ensemble. It is a great challenge to compose for musicians of such caliber, and I would say that it is the best 'Orchestra of Excited Strings' which has existed to date.
A CD entitled 'The Adding Machine" iis now available from this ensemble from Cantaloupe Records (Bang On A Can).
Members: Evan Ziiporyn: Cimbalom, Robert Black: Double and Excited Bass, Marc Stewart: Electric Guitar; Monochord and Excited Bass Jeff Lieberman: Electric Guitar and Excited Bass Laruel Smith: Violin and Hurdy Gurdy. Danny Tunick: Percussion
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Jan Schade: Cello, Tuba; Silvia Ocougne: Prepared E-Guitar and Basque String Drum; Werner Durand: Saxophone; Dirk Lebahn: Excited Strings Bass, Hurdy Gurdy; Jason Kahn, Chico Mello: Cimbalom; Pierre Berthet, Jason Kahn: Percussion; Rob Gutowski, Trombone; Paul Brody: Trombone
'Propellers in Love' was recorded during the first tour to Holland, West Germany and Switzerland.
Jan Schade: Modified "Princess" Piano; Arnold Dreyblatt and Dirk Lebahn: Excited Strings Bass; Wolfgang Mettler, Frederic Le Junter: Violin; Wolfgang Glum: Percussion
Program notes from the period:
'From Excited Strings come sounds that seem to stand on their own. In performance, we feel like jugglers: we make something down here, and something happens up there.'
'One could say that the entire history of my work in music has been derived
from a single, subjective experience with sound. It is this experience which
generates the music ideas - and not the other way around.'
1979-80: First New York Ensemble
Performers: Arnold Dreyblatt, Michael Hauenstein, Peter Phillips, Tracy Kirschenbaum
1981-82: Wesleyan University Ensemble
Performers: Arnold Dreyblatt, K. Mason Hill, Randal Baier, Ruth Charloff, Michael Hauenstein, Peter Phillips, Greg Lewis
1983: Second New York Ensemble (Early Period)
Performers: Arnold Dreyblatt, Michael Hauenstein, Siobhan O'Looney, Eric Feinstein, K. Mason Hill, Peter Zummo
The first New York City Ensemble was formed for a concert at the Experimental
Intermedia Foundation. With Peter Phillips as "concert master", the
first Orchestra of Excited Strings included two double basses modified with
piano wire (one with an extended neck), the premiere of the "Midget Upright
Pianoforte" (restrung with unwound wire and excited with feltless wood
hammers) and a Hurdy Gurdy. Later a portative was built with pipes and keyboard
in Dreyblatt's intonation, and in later periods French Horn and Trombone were
In 1981 I reformed the ensemble with a mixture of new and original members at Wesleyan University where I was invited by composer Alvin Lucier for a graduate fellowship. In 1981, I built a portative pipe organ with a specially designed keyboard to represent the 20-tone per octave just intoned tuning system.
Upon recieving a M.A. degree in Composition and Ethnomusicology from Wesleyan,
I returned to New York City and the ensemble was re-formed with the
inclusion of French Horn and then Trombone which, as all brass instruments,
easily play in the intonation of the naturally-occurring harmonic series through
Selections from early program notes:
"The melodic events present are for the most part not played on any one
instrument but occurr as partials coalesce in the space and in the ear. By that
time it is more or less a 'now you hear it, now you don't' sort of situation".
"The sound itself is strikingly original: the overtones emerge in something like geological strata, from simple, steady thirds, and fifths at the bottom to elusive pings on top, with percussive thwacks in between that with careful listening seem to change from timbres into melodies." -The Village Voice
Download Program Notes